I just got back home from a fun evening out with Denny and his wife Barbara, and had such an enjoyable evening out! He asked me yesterday if I’d like to go out for a drink with them tonight and of course I said yes. We planned to meet at a local café after dinner and then decided where to go from there. They picked a spot on the outskirts of town (I have no idea where it was) but they drove us there. I know Denny wanted to be away from town so nobody would spot us together. I know it wouldn’t look good for him to have befriended a student so for his own protection this worked out best. San Giovanni Valdarno is really small. In fact, tonight at the grocery store I saw 3 people I know (all who work at the school). You know it really must be small when me, the foreigner, recognizes people while I’m out and about!
For something different I made chicken parmesan from scratch (finally, I know where to buy everything I need at the Coop!) as well as alfredo sauce for dinner. I must say, it did come out very good (gotta love allrecipes.com)! I gave some of the alfredo sauce to Denny also because he’d mentioned how much he enjoyed it when he lived in the US but had no idea how to make it. He was surprised and excited to receive it! I plan to give some to Alberta to see what she thinks, as she’d never heard of it before.
As I was walking to meet them tonight, I felt genuinely nervous about our time together. I was practicing in my head what I’d say and how to say it, etc. I haven’t been nervous like that in a while! I guess it’s because I finally have a friend here and didn’t want to look stupid in front of him (though he’s been my teacher and has seen me worse off in class not having a clue what was going on at times). I’m sure this is normal for any foreigner who befriends someone else in another country. There was certainly a level of anxiety I had tonight about it, but didn’t need to. The conversation flowed so well and lasted a long while! We met at 9:15pm, and I didn’t get home till about 1:45am!
Anyway the three of us went to a pub and talked for hours in both Italian and English. Denny loves using English any opportunity he gets. Barbara understands some English and is working on learning more. It was a fun change for me to speak in Italian about random things outside of class and a good exercise, though challenging at times. We talked about life here and in the US, their living situation (they live with Denny’s dad), differences of how to say words in English that typically people mess up and how it comes across wrong (ward vs. word vs. world, sheet vs. shit, beach vs. bitch, etc.), etc. Denny composes music also and he will send me a link to where his music is. I agreed to listen to it and if there are any errors with the English words he’s used, I’ll correct them for him. He really must be good at keeping secrets because I was surprised he didn’t share with Barbara that I was psychic. Most people I know would have shared such a thing with their spouse. Once I realized she didn’t know, I asked him in English if it was safe to do so and he said yes, that she loves that sort of stuff. I told her, then we talked for a while about how I discovered it, how it works for me, and all of that – talk about difficult to explain in Italian! Denny was so helpful in translating a lot. All in all, it was a nice evening out getting to know one another. The time flew by as it always does when you’re having fun. Poor Barbara was probably bored and was definitely getting tired toward the end. They drove me back home and we agreed to meet again before I leave SGV. I think we’ll get together Friday evening, but we’ll e-mail to find a good time. I’m looking forward to it! I feel like I’ve really made a good connection here and I hope it continues over time. I believe that it will.
Denny also told me that after class on Friday, Anna Paola (the director of the school) informed him they won’t need him next week because they had 2 people drop out of class who were supposed to come next week. Therefore, he won’t be working there again until there’s a need, and as the winter months approach, the demand is less and less. 😦 We took this picture together after the class ended on Friday because some of the other students were leaving for good and we each took photos with our teacher. (Don’t you love the difference between his daytime look at going-out-for-the-night look?) I think this was a perfect appetizer to what’s coming next week for me as travel South. When I arrive in Catania, I’ll meet up with my friend Ombretta who lives in Catania. She has kindly offered to pick me up and also to host me at her home (though I will have other living arrangements, as the school says they found something for me). I know we’ll hang out often and I wouldn’t be surprised if I do things with her and her friends. I met Ombretta through an Italian meetup group about 4 ½ years back when she was studying abroad at NC State. We became friends and on the weekends she’d come out with my friends and I’d drive her around wherever we went etc. It was really enjoyable!
I’m glad I have this connection in Catania, as it’ll definitely give me a good opportunity to practice the language and be around people my own age too. I’m feeling optimistic about my time there; though I must admit this week I was nervous about it. Everyone here mentions how the way of speaking in the Southern part of Italy is so different. In this area of Tuscany, supposedly true Italian is spoken and the language is based on this area’s way of speaking. Though that may be true, there are some people who use a Florentine dialect around here from time to time. I’ve heard “amico” pronounced “amiho” and “casa” said “hasa.” Denny said that’s how it is sometimes. I remember him warning us about that on Day 1 and sure enough, I’ve heard 2 people speak in this manner. It always catches me off guard but I end up figuring out what they’re saying. I hope it’s not too bad for me when I get to Sicily.
All in all, I feel like things are starting to come together and ‘gel’ – a fantastic feeling considering I showed up 3 weeks ago not having a clue what was going on. I am proud of the progress I’ve made so far and have come a long way from not even knowing how the TV works, or how things work at the grocery store to having a friend and even signing up for a library card (yes…I did that today so I could print out some things for free). I’m excited to see what the remaining 5 weeks in Italy will look like though I’m in no hurry to find out! I am enjoying it all day by day, moment by moment. Isn’t that what living life should be like? I feel like I’ve found the purpose of life again by being here. Such a gift! I’m so grateful!
PS Sorry that some paragraphs are indented and others aren’t. I always type this up in a Word document ahead of time and paste them into my blog…this is what happens. I even try to correct the indents too and they still come out messed up. Oh well. For those OCD people like me, this drives you nuts. 🙂